In a virtual press conference, three senior members of the national Covid-19 task force, Niti Aayog member V.K. Paul, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava and AIIMS Delhi director Randeep Guleria, presented data pertinent to the ongoing Covid wave.
Dr Bhargava said there is no difference between the first wave and the second wave and the data showed that over 70% of patients in hospitals in both waves of the infection are above 40 years of age, indicating that seniors are still at higher risk. “Older population continues to be more vulnerable to be admitted in the hospital in the current wave,” Bhargava said while sharing the data.
There is no difference in the percentage of deaths between the first wave and second wave from the data we have,” the ICMR DG added, as per ANI reports.
The statistics presented also outlined that there is a higher need for supplemental oxygen — over 54% in hospitalised patients during the second wave. However, it also showed a decrease in the demand for ventilators, which has come down during the second wave, with only 27.8% of those admitted in hospitals needing it, as compared to over 37% who required it during the first wave.
He also said that more cases of breathlessness are being reported during this wave, while in the last wave, symptoms like dry cough, joint pain, headaches were more prevalent.
The ICMR DG also listed three main reasons for the higher transmissibility of Covid-19: laxity, Covid-inappropriate behaviour and various unidentified mutations. “We have had a tremendous amount of laxity, Covid-19-inappropriate behaviour and various unidentified mutations. Of them, some are of concern — the UK, Brazilian and South African variants, which have been demonstrated to have higher transmissibility,” he said. He also added that a double mutant has been found in India but its higher transmissibility has not been established.
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AI TOOL USES CHEST X-RAY TO DIFFERENTIATE WORST COVID CASES
According to a new study, a computer program that has been trained to see patterns by analysing thousands of chest X-rays — predicted with up to 80 per cent accuracy which Covid-19 patients would develop life-threatening complications within four days.
Developed by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, the program used several hundred gigabytes of data gleaned from 5,224 chest X-rays taken from 2,943 seriously ill patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the infections. The authors of the study, publishing in the journal NPJ Digital Medicine online, cited the “pressing need” for the ability to quickly predict which Covid-19 patients are likely to have lethal complications so that treatment resources can best be matched to those at increased risk. For reasons not yet fully understood, the health of some Covid-19 patients suddenly worsens, requiring intensive care, and increasing their chances of dying. In a bid to address this need, the NYU Langone team fed X-ray information into their computer analysis, also patients’ age, race, and gender, along with several vital signs and laboratory test results, including weight, body temperature, and blood immune cell levels. Also factored into their mathematical models, which can learn from examples, where the need for a mechanical ventilator and whether each patient went on to survive (2,405) or die (538) from their infections.
Researchers then tested the predictive value of the software tool on 770 chest X-rays from 718 other patients admitted for Covid-19 through the emergency room at NYU Langone hospitals from March 3 to June 28, 2020. The computer program accurately predicted four out of five infected patients who required intensive care and mechanical ventilation and/or died within four days of admission. “Emergency room physicians and radiologists need effective tools like our program to quickly identify those Covid-19 patients whose condition is most likely to deteriorate quickly so that health care providers can monitor them more closely and intervene earlier,” says study co-lead investigator Farah Shamout, PhD, an assistant professor in computer engineering at New York University’s campus in Abu Dhabi.
“We believe that our Covid-19 classification test represents the largest application of AI in radiology to address some of the most urgent needs of patients and caregivers during the pandemic,” says Yiqiu “Artie” Shen, MS, a doctoral student at the NYU Data Science Center. Study senior investigator Krzysztof Geras, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Radiology at NYU Langone, says a major advantage to machine-intelligence programs such as theirs is that its accuracy can be tracked, updated and improved with more data. He says the team plans to add more patient information as it becomes available. He also says the team is evaluating what additional clinical test results could be used to improve their test model.
Pharmaceutical market reports strong growth in April, says Ind-Ra
The 51.5% year-on-year growth in India’s pharmaceutical market during April was led by a low base effect as the market declined by 10.2% in April 2020 due to Covid-19 lockdown, as per India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra).
The growth would have been stronger on an adjusted basis, it said. Acute therapies like anti-infective and vitamins benefitted significantly due to the second Covid wave as these therapies have a direct and indirect role in the treatment of patients. The acute therapy growth was also aided by a low base in April last year, said Ind-Ra.
During April 2021, volumes grew 34.5% YoY, price growth was 7% and product launches were at 10% attributed to acute therapy products. Ind-Ra estimated the market growth of 8% to 10% YoY during FY22.
FATIGUE, MOOD DISORDERS ASSOCIATED WITH POST-COVID SYNDROME, CONFIRMS STUDY
Patients diagnosed with the post-Covid-19 syndrome, also known as ‘PCS’, ‘Covid-19 long-haul syndrome’ and ‘Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS COV-2’, experience symptoms such as mood disorders, fatigue, and perceived cognitive impairment that can negatively affect returning to work and resuming normal activities.
The findings of the study were published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. The study reported on the first 100 patients to participate in Mayo Clinic’s Covid-19 Activity Rehabilitation program (CARP), one of the first multidisciplinary programs established to evaluate and treat patients with post-Covid-19 syndrome. The patients were evaluated and treated between June 1 and Dec. 31, 2020. They had a mean age of 45, and 68 per cent were female. They were evaluated a mean of 93 days after infection.
The most common symptom of patients seeking evaluation for the post-Covid-19 syndrome was fatigue. Of the patients in the study, 80 per cent reported unusual fatigue, while 59 per cent had respiratory complaints and a similar percentage had neurologic complaints. More than one-third of patients reported difficulties performing basic activities of daily living, and only 1 in 3 patients had returned to unrestricted work activity.
“Most patients in the study had no preexisting comorbidities prior to Covid-19 infection, and many did not experience symptoms related to Covid-19 that were severe enough to require hospitalization,” said Greg Vanichkachorn, M.D., medical director of Mayo Clinic’s Covid-19 Activity Rehabilitation program and first author of the study.
Dr Vanichkachorn added, “Most of the patients had normal or nondiagnostic lab and imaging results, despite having debilitating symptoms. That’s among the challenges of diagnosing PCS in a timely way and then responding effectively.”
Nonetheless, the symptoms often resulted in significant negative effects as patients tried to return to normal daily activities, including work.“Most patients with whom we worked required physical therapy, occupational therapy or brain rehabilitation to address the perceived cognitive impairment,” said Dr Vanichkachorn.
“While many patients had fatigue, more than half also reported troubles with thinking, commonly known as ‘brain fog.’ And more than one-third of patients had trouble with basic activities of life. Many could not resume their normal work life for at least several months,” added Dr Vanichkachorn.
Mayo Clinic developed the Covid-19 Activity Rehabilitation program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester in June 2020 to care for patients experiencing persistent symptoms after Covid-19 infection. In addition to Dr Vanichkachorn, Mayo Clinic staff from many speciality fields are involved in diagnostics and treatment. Among services provided is psychosocial support for patients who frequently report feelings of abandonment, guilt and frustration during the initial evaluation.
Mayo Clinic is conducting intensive research on post-Covid-19 syndrome, in part to better define how the condition presents across different socioeconomic groups and ethnicities.
PREGNANT WOMEN HOSPITALISED FOR COVID DON’T FACE INCREASED DEATH RISK
Pregnant women who develop severe Covid-19 infections that require hospitalisation for pneumonia and other complications may not be more likely to die from these infections than non-pregnant women.
In fact, they may have significantly lower death rates than their non-pregnant counterparts. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), was published in the journal ‘Annals of Internal Medicine’. The study examined medical records from nearly 1,100 pregnant women and more than 9,800 non-pregnant patients aged 15 to 45 who were hospitalised with Covid-19 and pneumonia. Slightly less than 1 per cent of the pregnant patients died from Covid-19 compared to 3.5 per cent of non-pregnant patients, according to the study findings.
There are, however, some important caveats to the study data in terms of differences between the two populations. Pregnant patients were more likely to be younger and have fewer health conditions, including diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and chronic lung disease, compared to the non-pregnant patients.
Given the small number of deaths seen in the study, the researchers were unable to control for these differences to determine whether they significantly affected mortality risk.
“I think this is reassuring news for women who are pregnant and worried about getting infected with Covid-19 as new variants emerge,” said study corresponding author Anthony Harris, MD, MPH, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at UMSOM.
“While the study does not tell us for certain that pregnancy does not pose added risks for women, the data certainly point in that direction,” added Harris.
Researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston also participated in this study. UMSOM faculty who were co-authors of this study include Katherine Goodman, JD, PhD, Lisa Pineles, MA, Lyndsay O’Hara, PhD, Gita Nadimpalli, MD, MPH, Laurence Magder, PhD, and Jonathan Baghdadi, MD, PhD.
“I am so pleased we can provide some reassuring news to pregnant women who have faced an added burden during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine.
“This is an important study that adds to our knowledge of the Covid-19 pandemic at a critical time,” concluded Reece.
How nurses are giving their all in the battle against Covid-19
New Delhi: As the country continues to grapple with a surge in coronavirus cases, healthcare warriors including nurses are working selflessly and putting in long hours of duty. Nurses have a critical role in the efforts to curb the disease.
International Nurses Day, which falls on 12 May, is an opportunity to recall their services, express gratitude to them for their sacrifices and to adhere to their message of following Covid-19 appropriate behaviour. Nurses are at the forefront of fighting epidemics and pandemics – providing high-quality and respectful treatment and care. They are often the first and sometimes the only health professionals that people see and the quality of their initial assessment, care, and treatment is vital. The coronavirus pandemic is a stark reminder of the vital role nurses play.
Without nurses and other health workers, it will not be possible to win the battle against outbreaks or to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals or universal health coverage. Nurses are the backbone of the hospitals and clinics taking care of the millions of Covid-19 patients for months by putting their lives at risk.
Ahead of the International Nurses Day, the nurses from Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals, and Columbia Asia Hospital shared their views about their work in these challenging times.
Jincy Sara Jacob, Nursing Superintendent, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals said, “staying away from loved ones, sleeping on a sofa or in a separate room at home, not hugging and kissing children are sacrifices that we nurses and other front-line workers are making every day to care for Covid-19 patients which people often fail to acknowledge.”
“Initially, it was a little scary for us but later we realized that it was the call of the duty. We would like to urge everyone with minor to moderate symptoms to stay home and stay strong in terms of the strictness of their quarantine. We stay here for you, please stay home for us,” added Jacob.
Lovelen Sunil, Chief of Nursing Services, Columbia Asia Hospital, Palam Vihar, Gurugram said in these critical times, her job is not just limited to taking care of the patients. “I also have to educate them about the basics of Covid-appropriate behaviour that many fail to follow. One feels really helpless and painful when I see people not following the protocols risking their and their families’ lives. I have been working day in and day out, for more than a year now,” she said.
“Protecting my family has been the biggest challenge for me. But my family is very supportive and gives me adequate time to rest. I have not been able to take responsibility for my family ever since the coronavirus pandemic began, but they are very understanding and are managing the household chores all by themselves without any outside help,” said Sunil.
GOOGLE ADDS VACCINE INFO PANELS TO SEARCH, MAPS SHOW BEDS AVAILABLE
Tech giant Google has made discovering vaccine-related information easier by carrying out a scope of updates across its different services.
The aim of rolling out these features is to support health authorities and affected groups find assistance quicker, as the massive second wave of the pandemic sweeps the country. According to Mashable, to help in searching for vaccine information, Google Search will show the latest updates on vaccine safety, efficacy and side effects.
“You will also find information about prevention, self-care, and treatment under the Prevention and Treatment tab, in easy-to-understand language sourced from authorised medical sources and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” said the search giant in a blog post.
In addition to the testing centres, people can also access the location of 23,000 vaccination centres nationwide in English and 8 other regional languages.
Mashable detailed that another element has been added on Google Maps which will show a user if a hospital has beds and access to medical oxygen, based on crowd-sourced information. This data may not be right on target but it may be convenient for somebody hoping to get a friend or family member hospitalised close by.
Google Pay too has put out a Covid aid campaign where individuals who wish to donate to organisations that help Covid-influenced residents, including GiveIndia and UNICEF India can do so. Reportedly, this campaign has raised over USD 4.6 million (INR 33 crore) to date. (WITH ANI INPUTS)
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